Of the 24 entries submitted for our Ninth Annual Love Story Writing Contest, here are the judges’ favorite three endings to our fictitious love story, “Love at First Drip.”
Each was written in 750 words or less and received by the Feb. 2 deadline.
These and the other entries that were received can be found at www.vindy.com/lovestory after noon on Monday. The stories are in their original format.
First, here is the beginning of the love story:
It was love at first drip. Jason was tall, dark and handsome. Chloe was tall, fair and beautiful.
The day had been a tough one for each of them. It had made Chloe cry at her job and had made Jason depressed since he had to move back in with his parents. Both thought giving blood would help make their days a little better.
Chloe and Jason often gave blood. She loved watching the blood flow out of her arm and drip into a bag, knowing that one day soon it would help a stranger stay alive.
Jason was a stranger to Chloe. But when he entered the center that day, she remembered him from this same spot a year or so ago. Shyness kept her from striking up a conversation then. But that was then.
“Let this blood drip slower,” Chloe thought, trying to create time so as to find words. Jason was thinking the same as he sat there next to her. When he walked in, he noticed her: the blue pants, the wavy hair, the glasses. His knees had weakened. Was it the blood or was it her?
The silence stretched as each thought of what to say to each other. “What are the chances your life could change while changing someone else’s life?,” Chloe thought.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
FIRST PLACE: Carolyn Zaitzew, Canfield, Prize: $100 gift card to Rulli Bros.
As her bag slowly filled, Chloe began daydreaming about what it might be like to be in that handsome man’s perfectly toned arms, what his lips might feel like on her own, and what it might feel like to be in love again. Suddenly, Chloe was jerked from her reverie with a feeling of guilt. She had not thought of anyone else in that sort of way since Patrick, and now here she was practically planning her future with this strange man.
It’s been five years and she knows he would have wanted her to move on by now, to finally be happy again, but she just hasn’t met anyone that has made her feel the way he did. Her thoughts drift to Patrick, the way they always do when she donates blood.
He was there the first time she donated and every time for years after that. He was the one who convinced her of the amount of good she could be doing, of the beautiful gift of life she could give someone, simply by donating blood.
Patrick was a firm believer in helping others whenever possible; it was one of the things she loved the most about him. It only made sense that after he passed away, he donated his organs to those who needed them when he no longer did.
It had been their second Valentine’s Day since being married and everything was supposed to be perfect.
Instead, Chloe’s whole world came crashing down after that drunk driver slammed into their car at a red light. The doctors told her that Patrick saved the lives of eight people that day by donating his organs. It soothed her slightly to know that his heart would continue beating and giving a second chance to someone.
Hers, on the other hand, felt like it was shattered.
Now, five years later, the pain has eased, but she still donates every time she can, as it feels like an honor to his legacy to continue doing what he felt so strongly about. She smiles to herself, wipes the tear that had begun to form in her eye, then brings herself back to the present to see the man across from her watching her with a look of equal parts concern and intrigue.
Jason had been sneaking glances at the woman across from him for the past 10 minutes and could swear the whole range of emotions had passed across her face. He longed to know what could be going on inside that beautiful head of hers. He had seen her here several times before but has never worked up the courage to say hello.
He realized he had to act quickly as the nurse began collecting his full bag and removing the needle in his arm. “It’s now or never,” he urged himself. His heart starts to pound and he instinctively reaches up to touch the scar on the left side of his chest.
It has been five years since that Valentine’s Day when he got the call that changed his life forever. He had been waiting months for a new heart - the heart that now threatened to beat out of his chest at the thought of talking to this woman.
He takes a deep breath, slows his pulse, and confidently strides over to finally make his move.
“Care to join me for some fine dining, ma’am?” Jason asks as he gestures toward the table with juice and snacks for the donors.
Chloe laughs at his feeble attempt at a joke, but finds it oddly attractive.
She accepts his offer and they spend the next hour nibbling on cookies and sipping orange juice while talking about anything and everything.
Both of them feel a connection that is impossible to ignore. They may have saved lives by donating today, but Jason and Chloe both seemed to feel like they were the ones being saved.
SECOND PLACE: Kim Welch, Leavittsburg, Prize: Two tickets to “Vicki Lawrence and Mama: A Two-Woman Show” at Stambaugh Auditorium, Provided by Sunrise entertainment
... TWO MONTHS EARLIER
Jason jerked straight up in his bed. His heart pounding, who said that?
He said, “God? Is that you?”
Again, “Go home!”
“Not now God, I just got settled here and I love my new job. I can’t just pick up and leave. I have school loans, and car payments.” He laid back down afraid to sleep, praying it was just a dream.
But it happened again every night for the next month. Jason couldn’t work if he couldn’t sleep, so he put in his two weeks notice and resigned his position, to the shock of his boss. He regrettably packed up his apartment and started the long drive home.
TWO DAYS EARLIER
Chloe tried to hold back the tears. Crying was not the answer but she couldn’t help it.
The rail-thin older man had been getting chemo treatments twice a week for the past three months, his loving wife always by his side. Chloe looked forward to their appointments. They were such an uplifting influence on everyone. Often their conversations were about their only child who had recently graduated from college and was immediately hired at a new tech company on the West Coast. They couldn’t have been more proud! But today, the doctor had given them the results of his last CT scan and it wasn’t good. He would need a blood transfusion immediately and they asked Chloe to set it up for them.
It was dark when Jason’s car pulled into the driveway. Home. The lights were on and he knew his parents were still up. He hadn’t told them he was coming and they were going to be shocked to see him.
Opening the front door, his mom sobbed, “Oh Jason, how did you know we needed you?”
Jason tearfully hugged them and said that he kept hearing God’s voice telling him to go home.
They confided that they hadn’t wanted him to worry so they didn’t tell him about his dad’s cancer diagnoses. Their constant prayer was that God would lead them through this difficult time, but they didn’t know how they were going to manage alone.
They went to bed, Jason’s mind reeling with the devastating news.
He could hear them quietly talking and he realized how comforting that sound was as he closed his eyes.
The next morning he got up early, went outside and sat on the porch. He could hear his mom in the kitchen and knew she was making his favorite breakfast. Jason drove them to the hospital for the transfusion and while he was waiting, decided to go donate blood. He and his dad shared the same blood type and he felt like he was doing something proactive.
The ache in Chloes’ heart was slightly appeased watching her bag fill with blood. She happened to look up just as Jason came in.
It had been months since she’d seen him there and she wondered where he’d been.
When their eyes met, they immediately recognized the pain in each others’ eyes. Kindred souls they both thought. He sat in the chair beside her and broke the ice saying, “We’ve got to stop meeting like this!”
Her radiant smile melted his heart and he knew without a doubt that he would marry her someday.
She was getting ready to leave when something told her to turn around. She handed him her card complete with her name and phone number.
Chloe Jackson RN.
And then she was gone. As soon as he was finished, he ran to find his parents. He couldn’t stop grinning as he told them that he had just met the woman who would be their daughter-in-law, then dialed her number anxiously waiting to finally hear her voice.
A ringing sound came from behind the curtain and he heard her say hello as she came around into the cubicle.
His parents lit up with excitement as they introduced him to their favorite nurse, the one who had always been there to help them and answer their questions, even calling their home to check on them after a grueling round of chemo.
Her parents had been killed in a drunk driving accident six years earlier and she had been alone since then, working long hours to keep from being alone.
Jason knew God brought him home for Chloe, too.
A year to the day, Jason’s father walked her down the aisle and they became a family of four.
THIRD PLACE: Pete Graff, Poland, Prize: $50 gift card to Sunrise Inn
... “Serendipity,” Chloe blurted out.
“What?” said Jason.
“Serendipity” repeated Chloe as her face flushed.
“It means ‘when things happen by chance and have a happy or beneficial result.’ I remember seeing you here a while ago, but I was too shy to say hello. And now here you are again. It’s like I was given another chance to have a first hello.”
Now it was Jason’s turn to blush. “Really?” he said. “You were too shy to say hello? I have been sitting here thinking of some way to talk to you without sounding like a complete spaz. The best line I could come up with was ‘Hi, I’m Jason, AB Negative, nice to meet you.’”
Chloe laughed and suddenly the tension between the two of them was lifted.
“Wow, AB negative. That is kind of a rare blood type, isn’t it?” she asked.
“Yeah, I am kind of a big deal among vampires and blood banks,” Jason answered.
She laughed again as Jason flashed a pearly grin in her direction.
“Well, I am just a plain, old “O positive Chloe,” she said.
“I don’t think you are plain or old. But I am positive I would like to get to know you,” he said.
Laughing hysterically, Chloe choked out, “You really are bad at pickup lines.”
“I know, right? Maybe I should just eat some of those free crackers and juice and let you do the talking.”
Wiping tears from her eyes Chloe said, “Really - it’s fine. I had a bad day at work and a good laugh was what I needed.”
“What happened at work?” he asked.
“Well, I work for a local newspaper and my editor wanted me to do a story about romance and chance encounters for our Valentine’s edition. So I wrote about two people meeting on a subway train and having a love-at-first-sight moment. I spent two days writing it and he said it was ‘not how the real world works, people just don’t bump into each other and fall in love.’ Now I have to start over.”
He said: “I guess he doesn’t believe in “syrup en pitty”
“You mean ‘serendipity?’” asked a smiling Chloe.
“That’s what I said. It is hard to talk with these crackers in my mouth. Anyway, why don’t you write about us?” he continued.
“Is there ‘an us’? You would date a girl you met at a blood bank?”
“Sure - if that girl would date a guy who lives with his parents.”
“Wait, you live with your parents?”
“Yeah, it’s a long story for a another blood donation. But let’s stick with what we have now, our chance encounter. We could start with ‘Girl gives blood; boy gives blood; girl meets boy giving blood; boy likes girl he met while giving blood.’ Now all we need is a happy ending to their chance encounter. Maybe ‘boy asks girl to dinner?’ Maybe pasta and red wine?”
Chloe interjects, “Girl says yes to boy! But maybe they have Chinese instead? I have seen enough red for a day.”
They both smile at each other and lock eyes for what seems like an eternity.
Drip, Drip, Drip.
“Okay you two, time to finish up,” said a nurse breaking their spell. “I will have you out of here in a jiffy.”
As they gathered their coats and headed for the door, Chloe turned to Jason and said “Well, AB negative, how about that Chinese?”
“Sounds good to me O Positive. Oh, and I thought of the perfect title for your story. ‘SerenDRIPity.’ You know - cause of the blood dripping.”
“You know what AB?” said Chloe, “you really are bad at pickup lines.”
As they touched hands, their knees got weak.
Maybe it was the blood donation or maybe it was serendipity.